Paid Sick Leave Passes–But Will It Stick?

Hundreds of protesters showed up for Mayor Nutter’s budget speech this morning. Many of them, from unions like AFSCME DC 47, DC 33, were there to protest specifically against Nutter, being that three city unions are still working without contracts, and many blame the mayor for this.

They chanted “Bozo sucks!” before the address began, holding signs of Nutter dressed like a clown. Having heard the chant without seeing the signs may have been confusing to the average onlooker.

And a coalition of community groups had already planned a protest after Nutter’s speech to take place at 12:30.

But the biggest order of business before Mayor Nutter’s budget address was earned sick leave. The City Council heard public debate beforehand, amongst an unruly crowd of protesters.

“Get your head out of the sand and take care of District Council 33 … give us a contract,” said the business manager of District Council 33, who used earned sick time to focus on other things. He then noted of the construction of Dilworth Plaza: “We save the city money. I look out this damn window, and I see the mayor wasted $2 billion on capital funding projects we didn’t need … Any of you guys buy a pair of ice skates yet?” He then called “bullshit” on the mayor.

Several people—restaurant workers, low-wage workers, community activists, business owners—testified on behalf of, and against, the bill, with those against noting the usual arguments: The economy isn’t good enough right now for the bill; it’d hurt business. One woman testifying against the bill was told to “sit down” by a member of the crowd.

Councilman Bill Greenlee also spoke out passionately on the bill, which he’s championed since 2011.

“[The Mayor’s Administration] refused to allow the health commissioner to testify before the health committee of this Council. So much for transparency and open government,” he said. “I guess health is only an issue when they want it to be. Sort of like binding arbitration is only an issue when they want it to be.” That one got cheers from the crowd.

“Earned sick leave is not an either-or,” he continued. “It can be good, and it has proven to be good for workers and businesses. A healthy workforce … will be beneficial for everyone. Including financially for everyone, as it has been proven … When an employee is respected, they get respect back.”

Councilman David Oh said he believed thousands of jobs will be lost. He and Councilman Bill Green both spoke up against the bill.

In the end, it passed, 11 votes to six. Councilmen Green, Kenney, Oh, O’Neill, O’Brien and Squilla all voted against. It now goes to Nutter’s desk. He is expected to veto the bill, as he did last time he took a look at it. Twelve votes are required to override a mayoral veto, and assuming votes remain the same, Philadelphia will not have paid sick leave in 2013.

Follow Randy on Twitter: @RandyLoBasso

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